KUALA LUMPUR: If you had walked down the streets of Kuala Lumpur some 10 years ago, the chances of bumping into an African were quite slim.
But now with the advent of globalisation, Africans are making their way to Malaysia as businessmen, tourists and students, as they become more familiar with the country’s potential.
According to Senegal’s Ambassador to Malaysia Abdel Kader Pierre Fall, with globalisation, Africans are now more knowledgeable of the new potentials in Asia and as such more and more are making their way to Asia including Malaysia.
Africans have been coming to Malaysia also for “medical tourism” because it is cheaper to seek treatment in this country rather than Europe where they used to go previously.
Malaysia, he said had the medical tourism advantage “where one could get more mileage out of one’s money,” said the ambassador, who is also the vice-dean of the African Diplomatic Group here.
Abdel Kader also expects more and more Africans to visit Malaysia’s tourism spots as they are now more familiar with Malaysia as a tourist destination, apart from an educational hub.
The ambassador said that besides tourism, Africa has been looking forward to diversifying partnerships with Malaysia be it in trade, technical cooperation or even politics.
Describing the ties between Africa and Malaysia as very “promising”, he pointed out that at the recent Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAs) organised by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) here, almost 30% of Senegal’s delegation bought “some containers to send back home.”
“Trade with Malaysia is definitely going forward and we see more Africans coming to Malaysia to buy products and more Malaysians going to Senegal and other African countries as well for partnerships in trade,” the ambassador said.
And when Africa celebrated the 46th anniversary of Africa Day here in May, he said it was not only a joyous occasion for the continent but also a celebration of the friendship between Africa and Malaysia.
Besides, most of the African countries are members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and even at this level there is a “perfect relationship” with Malaysia.
Senegal President Abdulaye Wade is the current chairman of the 57-member OIC after taking over from Malaysia’s former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last year.
Abdel Kader said Africans celebrate the anniversary of Africa Day on May 25 in order to reinforce their commitment to achieving African unity and to ensure no African is deprived of liberty.
The day is also a commitment of Africa in striving for economic development and achieving better quality of life for all its citizens, the ambassador said.
He said that in Malaysia, Africa Day has been celebrated since the last four or fives years so as to make Malaysians more aware of Africa in general, its economy as well as its political and social situation.
Abdel Kader noted that events like Africa Day and cultural activities would allow for more interaction between Malaysians and Africans.
The ambassador is also very keen in having some kind of “cultural tourism.”
“Given the fact that there are a lot of Muslims in Africa and Malaysia is predominantly made up of Muslims, you would see more exchange (of tourists) at that level too, so I foresee in the near future of a exponential grown in the tourism sector between Malaysia and African countries,” he said.
Indeed, “mysterious Africa” also has huge potential in attracting tourists from Malaysia with its “energetic” culture, exotic tourism spots and the renowned safaris.
For Senegal the ambassador said its beautiful beaches are some of the country’s attractions.
Located in the western most part of the African continent, Senegal is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world while Dakar, its capital is one of the busiest cruise ship ports in Africa.
On trade opportunities in Africa, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has acknowledged that African nations provide a range of investment opportunities, which Malaysian businessmen should look into and explore.
He made this remark at the three-day Global Smart Partnership Dialogue from July 26 to July 28 in Kampala, Uganda.
Indeed with a population that is reportedly reaching almost one billion, Africa is a land of opportunities for investors and tourists alike. -- BERNAMA